Random Thoughts

I wrote this after returning from the annual ASG conference last year, prior to my blogging days. Isn't it nice to have a place to share your random thoughts? Enjoy ;-)

I just returned from my very first sewing convention, the annual ASG conference in Sacramento, CA. It was a wonderful experience. So many like-minded, enthusiastic people gathered together in one place to learn, shop, eat, visit and did I mention…shop!

One of my favorite moments came on the last day, at the very last minute. My cousin, Denise, and I had been trying to get to the JSM booth all week, but it was always crowded. You really should have Joyce measure you and have her counsel you to get the best size in her pant pattern. Besides, if I am paying $20 for one pattern, I want to talk to the designer and find out what I am going to have to do to make it fit!

I get there first -- Denise is coming. Joyce Murphy's 'assistant', a very sweet, older diminutive woman with a pronounced palsy in her hand, measures me, tells me what size and offers to have me try on the pre-sewed muslin. I politely decline, "Why, I have all of my PatternReview, CMN and ASG friends, I can figure this out" I muse in my head.

Denise comes along, "Yes, I would love to try one on!" Off she runs to the ladies room, outside the vendor area, to change. She has not sewn for herself in years and we live two hours apart, the likelihood of us getting together for fitting anytime soon is slim.

As it turns out, SHE is the smart one! The 'Assistant' sits down in front of her, with pins at the ready. Tucking and pinching her way to an amazing fit! When that is done she makes a sketch, measures her tucks and pinches and makes a note on the sketch with any other things Denise needs to know to get a perfect pair of trousers! All in less than 15 minutes.

OMG, I have made a royal mistake! The auditorium lights are blinking! The big burley men are here rolling up the carpet. Joyce is folding up all of the muslins. Dare I ask?? A timid voice I barely recognize as my own squeaks forth “Err...um...do you have time for another?" The kindly older assistant doesn't hesitate for a second "Sure, Joyce do you mind?" Joyce: "No, I am still packing..."

But wait. I can't leave the vendor area to go put the pants on, they won't let me back in. Whew, I manage to get the muslin up and on under my skirt with no unseemly flashing of 'Big Burley Men'. Oh NO! It is falling OFF! This muslin is too big! I need a smaller size. No time to rejoice in the fact that I need a smaller size. Joyce has packed up the muslins. In that suitcase…Right there...The UNzipped one. The one that is waiting for the muslin I am wearing. "Um, Joyce, does this look a little large to you?" Joyce: "Yes, you need to start with the next size down, less adjusting. Here, let me grab that for you." Ahhh, thank you! I neatly fold up the too large pair and put them in the case. I do another 'Presto-chango' that we women do so effortlessly and that always seems to leave men scratching their heads.

Now the fun begins. I strap the pincushion to the assistant’s wrist; she sits before me and performs her magic. The kind of magic only another sewer can truly appreciate. Tucking and pinning. Pinning and pinching. I stood there in awe as the hand that was shaking so profusely just moments ago, was drawing me a perfect sketch of my pants. Every adjustment, from my high hip to my sway back, was addressed on that sketch. Not a one was left out. Honest to goodness, well fitting trousers are now in my future.

Little did I know when I walked into Joyce Murphy's booth to buy a pant pattern that I was going to walk out with a perfectly adjusted pant pattern by her lovely assistant, the legendary Judy Barlup!

I will forever treasure that sketch. For me, it represents so many things:

For such a seemingly simple thing, it has years of sewing knowledge, experience, instinct and wisdom behind it.

It makes me want to do better, learn more, and be more patient. But mostly, to share what little I do have to offer with others.

It reminds me of the pioneers in the industry that have come before us and so generously shared their vast, hard-earned knowledge with us.

Judy’s generation is, sadly, getting older. It is now up to us to continue the tradition and pass our hard-earned knowledge on to the next generation.

For more information on Judy Barlup check out her website: http://uniquetechniques.com/

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